Republicans: The Party of Whiners

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Gail Vida Hamburg Author, 'The Edge of the World,' & the forthcoming 'Liberty Landing'

Republicans: The Party of Whiners

Sen. Phil Gramm, economic adviser to John McCain's Presidential campaign, got it only half wrong when he called us a nation of whiners. He would have nailed it if he'd hurled the charge with more accuracy -- at his own party and its supporters.

 At this moment in our history, when we ought to be thinking strategically, critically, and holistically about a litany of problems, and applying to them possible solutions that are visionary, entrepreneurial, and bold, Republicans have perfected their shrill and tuneless whining into an art form. In place of Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America," we now have the GOP's "Book of Lamentations."

President Obama’s bid to bring the Olympics to my hometown, Chicago, if successful, would have brought thousands of jobs and tourism dollars, transformed Southside neighborhoods in the vicinity of the games for the better, and allowed Chicago to show the world community its special qualities as a Great American City.

The President’s involvement showed, most of all, his love for Chicago -- the place where he integrated all the fragments of his life as a globalist, to become the rooted Midwesterner and pragmatic, optimistic American that he is today. I have written elsewhere about the specificity of the President's relationship with Chicago. It is in Chicago that he reconciled the disparate, various elements of his geography, history, and biography to become whole and actualized. We like to believe that we took him for granted long before legions around the world considered him exceptional. Before he inspired 64 million voters of every hue across the country, he first impressed out-of-luck white farmers in downstate Illinois with his empathy. That is why the President went to Copenhagen, John Boehner and  William “Twiggy” Bennett.

Mr. Obama’s pitch to the IOC showed his willingness to put an important local issue that would affect the lives of many, before his own national poll numbers. It highlighted his inclination to take risks and give things his best shot, in order to create the desired outcome.   These are aspects of the meta-narrative Americans have always believed about themselves: that we’re gutsy, take risks, think big, fail, and live another day for a new challenge.  These are things we teach our children: “Try your best. Give it all you’ve got, so you won’t be ashamed even if you fail.” It’s part of the reason so many, born in other places, gravitate to America.  It’s where, more than anywhere else, one can try to launch a tech startup, create a super-biodegradable water bottle, write code for a new software, build a Kindle or a Kiva. It’s where you came if you wanted to make something brighter, bolder, better.

You’d never know that America stands for any of these things if you listen to the GOP and its acolytes and sycophants these days.  Whine, Whine, Whine, No, No, No.  Critic in Chief, Richard Steele, a latter day Jeremiah, ripped President Obama for going to Copenhagen. A group of Republicans,  “Republicans for Prosperity,” -- patriots all -- applauded with glee when they heard that Chicago was out of the running. The preternaturally humble Rush Limbaugh showed he had his finger on the pulse of nothing but his own over-sized rump, when he called the Chicago loss, “the worst day of Obama’s presidency and a testament to his Mars-size ego.” Where was the trenchant Republican analysis on failed presidencies when Mr. Bush got a shoe upside his head? Where was the GOP hubris indicator when Mr. Bush swore he'd end tyranny in the world?

Fiscal responsibility, extinct as a Dodo Bird during the Bush years when deficits didn't matter, is suddenly all the rage among Republicans.  A party that promised an Iraq War with no money down -- the real cost will be $694 billion by the end of the year -- now has the unmitigated gall  to complain about the cost of the President's trip to Copenhagen.

Chicago loses its Olympics bid and Conservatives rejoice. Bill Kristol who applies meticulous stupidity to willful ignorance and calls it a career, declared his amusement at Chicago's failure to secure the Olympics. "Our economy doesn't need the boost of the Olympics," he said, revealing the breadth of his knowledge of Illinois state revenues. Brilliant. Why try for the Olympics when there's a perfectly good Plan B to install  gaming machines in restaurants and bars? That's the way to erase a state deficit,  a quarter at a time from a new class of addicts.

Is it smart politics to obstruct and criticize everything that a President  -- elected by the majority -- proposes and does? Should Republicans hate the President more than they love their country? Whining is not the cure for losing the last election, or winning the next one.

This Blogger's Books and Other Items from...